Mergers: Suspension of time limits (DK) and request for delay of notifications (EU)
The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority has today announced that the statutory time limits for the processing of merger notifications as set out in section 12 d (1-5) of the Danish Competition Act have been extraordinarily suspended for 14 days due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Danish Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs has issued an order that is effective as of today, Wednesday, 18 March, which details the suspension of the time limits. After expiry of the 14 days, it will be assessed whether the time limits must be suspended further. The European Commission encourages companies to delay merger notifications originally planned until further notice, where possible.
The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority announces a 14-day suspension of time limits
The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority has today announced that the time limits for the processing of merger notifications have been suspended for 14 days as a response to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 virus outbreak. The statutory time limits laid down in section 12 d (1-5) of the Danish Competition Act are therefore currently suspended. After expiry of the 14 days, the Authority will assess whether to suspend them further. The suspension of the time limits appears from an order issued by the Danish Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, which is effective as of today, Wednesday, 18 March.
The reason for suspending the time limits is that the Authority in connection with the review of merger notifications may face difficulties in contacting third parties in connection with the assessment of the transaction, including customers and competitors of the merging companies, which may considerably affect the final decision. The Authority explains that such problems will increase the risk of making substantively incorrect decisions, thereby prohibiting mergers that ought to have been approved or approving mergers that ought to have been prohibited. However, the Authority will continue to ensure that the ordinary time limits are met as far as possible.
Companies should therefore pay particular attention to these challenges prior to any filing of a final merger notification with the competition authorities; this should also be taken into account in ongoing processes. Furthermore, the Competition and Consumer Authority encourages companies wishing to merge to contact the Authority well in advance.
COVID-19 causes difficulties in the Commission's casework as well
The European Commission also faces delays in the processing of merger notifications due to COVID-19. The reason for this is that it is difficult for the Commission to collect information from customers, competitors and suppliers for the pur-pose of assessing the mergers. In addition, the Commission faces limitations in terms of access to information and data-bases following the introduction of remote working measures. All in all, the processing of merger notifications has been challenged by the COVID-19 outbreak, so the Commission encourages companies to delay merger notifications originally planned until further notice, where possible. However, the measures taken by the Commission do not appear to be quite as comprehensive as those taken by the Danish Competition Authority, considering the fact that the statutory time limits remain unchanged.
However, the measures taken by the Commission are not as comprehensive as those taken by the Danish competition authorities, because apparently the statutory time limits remain unchanged.
The Commission extraordinarily encourages that documents are submitted in digital rather than physical format
The Commission temporarily accepts that documents are submitted in digital format rather than the usual physical documents. Companies are still allowed to deliver the physical documents, but the Commission encourages them to use the temporary electronic solution instead.